In a strategic twist within Major League Baseball (MLB), insider Jon Heyman has reported that right-handed pitcher Marcus Stroman has exercised his option to leave the Chicago Cubs, opening the door to free agency. Stroman, who had a contract that guaranteed him $71 million over three years, has decided to cut his tenure short with the Cubs after just two seasons, a move confirmed by fellow analyst Jesse Rogers.
Stroman's departure comes off the back of a season sliced in half by performance and physical ability. Starting strong, Stroman pitched an impressive 112 2/3 innings before the All-Star break, boasting a 2.96 ERA and securing his place on the All-Star team.
Yet, the season's latter half told a different story. His time on the injured list spanned almost six weeks, leading to a considerable ERA spike to 8.63 over a reduced inning count of 24. A prominent figure in his seven seasons within the majors, Stroman's achievements include a coveted Gold Glove Award and an All-Star title, alongside an ERA under 4.00 in five distinct seasons.
These accomplishments not only highlight his caliber as a player but also reinforce his attractiveness in the free agent market.
Stroman's Free Agency Edge
Stroman's entry into free agency is particularly notable as he won't be shackled by a qualifying offer – a freedom he earned by accepting a similar proposal from the Mets after the 2020 season.
This factor, coupled with the absence of draft pick compensation, places Stroman in an advantageous position relative to other pitchers seeking contracts and potentially inflates his market value. The Cubs, who are now bereft of Stroman's services, face the season ahead without the prospect of receiving any compensation draft picks should he sign elsewhere.
Meanwhile, Stroman is poised to leverage the situation to secure a potentially more lucrative and long-term deal than the Cubs’ remaining $21 million offer for 2024. While Stroman's decision may have been influenced by the Cubs' performance and his injury history, it also suggests a calculated gamble on his future in the sport.
For teams in need of a proven pitcher with a solid track record, Marcus Stroman represents a golden opportunity in this off-season's free agency. His availability is expected to make a splash in the free-agent pool, potentially reshaping the pitching market and setting a precedent for player movements leading up to the 2024 season.